In conversation with multifaceted Nadie Kammallaweera | Sunday Observer

In conversation with multifaceted Nadie Kammallaweera

5 February, 2023

Last week we spoke to a cast member of ‘Wakefield’, a popular Australian ABC show, our very own actress Nadie Kammallaweera.

Known for her roles in ‘Badde Kulawamiya’, ‘August Son’, ‘Paangshu’, ‘The Strange Familiar’ and many more, Kammallaweera is a passionate actress who believes hard work is the key to success.

In conversation with Kammallaweera here’s what we found out:

Q: Tell us about how you got into acting.

A: After finishing my A/Ls, I had to wait a long time to get into university. It was very boring trying to kill time at home. During this time, to make me engaged in something, my father used to take me to see stage plays, book launch ceremonies, book discussions etc.

One day he took me to see the stage play, ‘Yadam’ directed by Somalatha Subasinghe.

I got so mesmerised by the performances, that after the play I asked my father to take me backstage to see the actors. I met Somalatha Miss there. Thaththa took me to her and requested to take me to one of her classes.

She observed me carefully and told me to come for a workshop she was doing at that time. Going to that workshop opened up a whole new world for me!

Subasinghe was an amazing teacher, a real Disapamok-type Guru. After completing the initial workshop, she offered me small roles in her plays. After some time, she cast me to play the lead role in her play ‘Snowwhite and Seven Dwarfs’. This is how I stepped into my acting career.

Q:  How did your school education facilitate your career as an actress?

A: To tell the truth, I never did any acting in school. The school teachers never included me in any plays. In fact nobody believed that I could act. When I was in school, I was a kid with disheveled hair, a sweaty face, and no sophisticated feminine rhythm. Nobody considered me to be good enough to be sent on stage.

Although the school’s main stage did not welcome me, I was a popular comic among my friends. I used to throw small performances with another friend in class during our free periods. We were even invited to other classes to perform.

Q: Did your family and school support you in your dream to pursue acting?

A: Honestly, I didn’t have a big dream to become an actress when I was young. The encouragement and confidence I gained working with Somalatha Miss made me turn in this direction. After being part of several plays, I realised that this is something I really enjoy and this is what I want to pursue.

My family supported me in every way they could. Even now, my parents help me to continue working as an actress. I have a child, so, being a mother, working full-time to earn a living, and acting is not easy. Without my parent’s help, I wouldn’t have been able to sustain my career as an actor.

Q: Who would you say is the biggest inspiration in your career?

A: I have been inspired by several personalities and I would like to mention a few women artists here with gratitude. When I started acting, Kaushalya Fernando was a big inspiration to me. She was also a teacher while I was studying under Somalatha miss.

Later in life, along the journey I met female actors who have inspired me with their versatile talent and strong interesting personalities. Chandani Senevirathne is one such character. Ruwanthie de Chickera was my batch mate in university and since those young ages, she has been an inspiration to me in many ways. Some years ago, I was lucky enough to work with Iranganie Serasinghe in a theatre production and her life and renowned career as an artist just fascinated me.

At present I get inspiration from many other great artists I have not even met and I am soo glad the talent and passion of these individuals keeps me going.

Q: What is the best thing about being an actress?

A: The best thing about being an actress is that every new project is an opening to a new exploration about human condition and life. I am a person who loves adventures. Working with new people, in new settings, and facing new challenges. Acting is extremely hard work that comes with heaps of fun and excitement.

I also believe that being an actress makes me become empathetic toward other people’s pains, traumas, and complexities. I consider this a reward.

Q: What is it about movies that you like?

A: It is difficult to name one single thing. A good movie has a good script, good direction, terrific performances, unforgettable music scores and many other things. But since I am an actor, I always give a lot of attention to the characters and the performances when I watch a movie.

Q: Is there a director that you haven’t had the chance to work with yet but you would love to if given the opportunity? If so, who is it?

A: I can’t think of one particular director that I am dying to work with. To be honest I am just thirsty to work as an actor. So, If there is a director who is willing to offer me a role and work with me to bring it to life, I would happily choose to work with him or her.

Q: Tell us your experience with ‘Wakefield’?

A: ‘Wakefield’ was a wonderful experience. From the writers to the directors, to the performers, I enjoyed working with the team. I played the role of the mother of the lead character. It was a challenging role for me, ranging from 35 years to 65 years old.

A role of a woman who was desperately trying to overcome the agony and trauma of a tragic event in her life. Working as an actor in the TV industry in Australia gave me an opportunity to peep into its vast world. This opportunity helped me build up a bit of a network of artistes in Australia.

Q: What is the best movie or series you have done so far?

A: I love almost all the work I have contributed to, I don’t think I can pick one.

Q: How would you pick movies you would want to work on?

A: This depends on the context and varies from situation to situation. Sometimes, we are lucky that we get an offer from good directors, sometimes there is a very good script, a must-tell story, a role that I always wanted to play, sometimes a long-known artiste friend invites me to do some work together. Sometimes the decision is based on how big the project is or what new experiences it could unfold, sometimes we have to pick work depending on the money as well.

Q: Has anybody given you advice on life and do you try to live by it? If so, what is it?

A: Recently I got a very valuable piece of advice that I want to make an effort to live by. I received this advice from an Indian friend, who is also a fellow actor, who I worked with recently in a theatre production.

He once asked me, “Do you consider yourself as a victim of your life circumstances or do you consider yourself the hero of your own story?’’ He asked me this considering my own life challenges as a single parent in a strange country, being a newly arrived migrant, striving to stay as an artist amidst many other practical issues of survival.

This question stirred my mind and I started reflecting on it a lot. In my life, I am not a victim, but a shining hero. I strive to live by this, and it brings a great feeling of emancipation to me.

Q: Would you like to give some advice to fellow actors?

A: I do not think I am in any way an expert to give advice. I would rather receive some from others. But I would suggest this to my fellow actors. This career demands us to keep learning, searching and working hard if we wish to master the craft. In this journey, more than compliments and praise, we need to push and challenge each other to become better in our craft.